Caribbean nations urge US to end Cuba embargo

News from Cuba | Monday, 8 December 2014

US pressed to end 54-year-old economic embargo, as 15 Caribbean nations meet in Havana for summit.

Caribbean leaders have urged the US to end a 54-year-old economic embargo against Cuba, describing it as "senseless" as they convened in Havana for a regional summit.

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne on Sunday implored US President Barack Obama to end the 54-year-old economic embargo, as 15 Caribbean nations met to discuss financial assistance and economic agreements.

"We continue to stand with Cuba on the US embargo against Cuba," Browne, who chairs CARICOM said.

"I call on President Obama to lift that senseless embargo now," he added at a welcoming ceremony at the Cuban capital's Jose Marti International airport.

Trinidad and Tobago's foreign minister, Winston Dookeran, said the meeting, along with Cuba's invitation to the Summit of the Americas in Panama in April, signaled "the full integration of Cuba into the Western Hemisphere."

The US, which is also invited to the April summit, said it was not worried about Cuba's participation.

"I think what we're focused on is less on who's invited and more on what's discussed," US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

She has said that in Panama Washington would concentrate on shared commitments to the collective defense of democracy and human rights.

The US imposed the economic embargo on the island in 1960 after Cuba's nationalisation of properties belonging to US citizens and corporations.

The US and Cuba have lacked full diplomatic relations since 1961.

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